Martens string band at Elks

From concert to campfire, his life is rich with music.



From concert to campfire, his life is rich with music.

Since the first sparks flew at age nine, when he discoverd the guitar, Brett Martens has dedicated much of his life to music and his instrument.

Martens is one of Vancouver Island’s most astounding young guitar players. He is currently touring with the Marc Atkinson Trio and leading his new band, the Brett Martens String Band. His zeal for music is addictive, passionate, and fun; his playing has been described as enlivening, creative and exciting.


The band plays this Thursday from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Elks Hall on Sixth Street in Courtenay.


The Brett Martens String Band follows the sound of Django Reinhardt and the Quintette du hotclub de France, a musical style pioneered in the 1930s when a very inventive gypsy living in France discovered American jazz. Known as ‘manouche’ or ‘gypsy jazz,’ the sound is all acoustic and rich with delightful rhythms, melody and improvisation.


Martens states, “When first listening to Django, I was pleasantly perpelexed; I had never heard anything like it! Guitar players, composers, improvisers and the like have much to thank from this timeless, two-fingered genius.”

Reinhardt lost the use of some fingers on his fret hand, which was burned when he was young.


The String Band plays Martens’ original compostions,

alongside an array of tunes from different eras and styles, all interpreted to fit a small string band.


Martens’s compositions pull from his upbringing in classical and jazz, and dip into musette, bluegrass, Latin and “just about anything that swings.” Along with the originals, the band plays many standards of the “swing” era — anything from romantic ballads to “dance on the table” party swing. Be it for the intellectual or the fire of the gypsy … the music is moving.


Joining Martens are some fine musicians in their own right — Jim Lambert on rhythm guitar and Tim Croft on upright bass.

Lambert is on the top of the list for gigs in the Comox Valley; a great lead player, as well as solid rhythm guitarist. “The heart of the groove in manouche, lies with the drummer … the rhythm guitar.”

Croft has been the backbone for many groups over the years, and it shows. “His sound is big and his ears even bigger; just what you want in a great bass player.”

In the gulf of Vancouver Island lies the isle of Hornby.  Here, Martens lives with his wife and daughter.

“Writing, touring, playing and teaching are a big part of my life, and much inpsiration comes from living in such a wonderful community,” he says. “When I think music, I think celebration of life, love, sadness and joy … everything summed up into 12 notes with a good tempo.”

— Brett Martens